How Priyanka Chopra is using her platform to boss up and give back
Priyanka Chopra’s career is a testament to one completely embracing the opportunities that are afforded when being an actress on the global stage.
Chopra has immersed herself in various projects ranging from activism, philanthropy, and business. What serves as the common thread between each of these enterprises is that Chopra is utilizing her celebrity status to create change and bring awareness to critical issues.
As a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, she has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights and wellbeing and has condemned violence against women and the tradition of child marriages.
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I’m in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh today for a field visit with UNICEF, to one of the largest refugee camps in the world. In the second half of 2017, the world saw horrific images of ethnic cleansing from the Rakhine State of Myanmar(Burma). This violence drove nearly 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh – 60% are children! Many months later they are still highly vulnerable, living in overcrowded camps with no idea when or where they will ever belong…even worse, when they will get their next meal. AND…as they finally start to settle and feel a sense of safety, monsoon season looms…threatening to destroy all that they’ve built so far. This is an entire generation of children that have no future in sight. Through their smiles I could see the vacancy in their eyes. These children are at the forefront of this humanitarian crisis, and they desperately need our help. The world needs to care. We need to care. These kids are our future. Pls Lend your support at www.supportunicef.org #ChildrenUprooted @unicef @unicefbangladesh Credit: @briansokol @hhhtravels
But Chopra’s latest venture is in tech. The actress has invested in the coding education company, Holberton School, as Chopra is dedicated to exposing women to the fields of computer science and technology in a larger attempt to eliminate the gender inequity in STEM industries.
The school’s educational mission is to teach students to code and providing them with the crucial skills and experiences to occupy jobs in STEM that are available now, and are expected to grow significantly within the decades to come.
Interestingly, The New York Times reported that tuition for the school is required after graduation with “17% of their paycheck is deducted by the school for three and a half years.” Her recent business initiative aligns with the actress’s commitment to creating more opportunities for women and women of color in particular.
A South East Asian Woman in Hollywood
Chopra also isn’t incognizant to Hollywood dominance over the global film distribution market. In an interview with the BBC, she stressed how she finds the term ‘Bollywood’ itself to be reductive and leads to the misconception of Bollywood being simply “a spoof of Hollywood,” instead of being considered as a serious and huge film industry.
In the same interview, Chopra also revealed how she pushes back against the label of being a ‘Bollywood actress’ that is often ascribed to her by media outlets.
It is for these reasons that Chopra is invested in creating more narratives orientated around South East Asian individuals and communities. Chopra wants to show that cinema from and about this region of the world goes beyond the widespread Western idea of characters breaking into song and dance on an over-the-top colorful set.
In speaking with Variety, Chopra relayed her feelings and experience when meeting with the executives of the ABC network after being granted the lead role for the series Quantico. She said,
“What happens with a lot of South Asian actors or actors who come from different countries is you get stereotyped into just what studio execs think that Indians should be.”
Indeed, the lack of representation and limited (and often derogatory representation) of South Asian populations inspired her to head her own production company, Purple Pebble Pictures.
The production company has much to be excited about. Their film Pahuna: The Little Visitors, has garnered critical praise amongst the European film festival circuit and earned the accolade of winning the best film award at the Schlingle Film Festival in Germany.
Pahuna tells the story of three Nepalese children that are separated from their parents and then undergo extraordinary circumstances to return back home.
Opportunity and Success
While her career certainly demonstrates her desire to create opportunities for others, in an interview with Teen Vogue, Chopra also emphasized the importance of one creating opportunities for yourself. She says,
“You have to create your opportunity, you have to fight for it, you have to demand it. Yes there will be times you will be let down, you will be disappointed and people will tell you, you’re ahead of your time or that’s not how it is. At some point, you will find some success. At some point, you’ll be able to find a crack in the door. Even that’s enough. Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are too small.”